OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Renewed strength for the Jesuit mission in Oceania

Friday, 7 March 2008

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - With the appointment of Australian Jesuit Fr. Mark Raper as President of the Jesuit Conference for East Asia and Oceania, the Company of Jesus is looking to give a “boost” to the evangelizing mission of the Jesuits in the Pacific zone. Fr. Raper comes as the successor to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, who has been named Superior General of the Order.
“This is a great responsibility,” insisted Fr. Raper, who will have to motivate the religious in giving renewed impulse to the mission in Oceania and in strengthening the commitment of the Order in the countries of Eastern Asia, where there are many questions left to be answered and challenges in the Church’s mission.
A watchful eye is needed, Fr. Raper says, for the newly formed provinces of the Order: in these areas, there is still work left to be done to enroot and establish a structure, as well as in an integration into the social and cultural context of the various countries. “However, all the provinces should see themselves as part of one and the same community, of a large family,” the Jesuit commented. “We need to help each other to reach our goals for the mission. The Conference of East Asia and Oceania has begun many common projects that will have to be consolidated along the way.”
“I believe that the Company of Jesus still has a lot to offer Asia, Oceania, and many other parts of the world. I have confidence,” he added.
In the territories that are members of the Conference of East Asia and Oceania, the vocational ministry of the Order, founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, has in recent years borne many good fruits, which in part is from the help of modern communications technologies and the “on-line vocational promotion,” seeing as one of the “sites” most frequented by young people is the web.
A great attention is also given to the Jesuit Social Services (JSS) that in 2007 celebrated 30 years as an institute in Australia.
According to internal statistics from the General Curia of the Jesuits, as of January 1, 2007, in East Asia and Oceania alone, the Jesuits number 1,672: 1,135 priests, 110 brothers, 330 scholastics, and 97 novices. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 7/3/2008 righe 28, parole 371)